Plot: What’s it about?
Have you ever wanted to know more about how the planets that surround us, and the heavens that surround them? If you answered yes to that question, you’re in for a real treat with this release from A&E, entitled The Planets. If you want to know something about this solar system works, more than likely the information you seek is found in this release. This features interviews with over one thousand people, including scientists, engineers, and even astronauts. In other words, you hear from almost every perspective, which provides a wide, expansive take on the subject. But interviews aren’t the only content here, as many other sources are used to explain the outer space world around us. This release contains rare NASA archive footage, images from the Hubble and other scientific instruments, and computer graphics designed to enrich the experience of learning about the realm that surrounds us. This release covers the space race, the search for alien life, possible human habitation on other planets, and nearly every other topic you can imagine.
A&E has issued this fantastic documentary, which was produced in association with the BBC, in an excellent DVD release. The documentary is presented on four single sided, single layered discs, which are packed together in a nice boxed set. The discs are decorated nicely, and form one larger spine when the discs are lined up inside the included box. The audio/video is excellent, and the overall documentary quality is very high. The high price will exclude some from purchasing this set, but I feel the under $20 per disc price is reasonable. If you’re an astronomy buff, or just enjoy a good documentary, this is a stellar release, one that should not be missed. Below is a listing of the discs and their content.
Disc One: Different Worlds & Terra Firma- This is a look back at events that changed the way we looked at the surrounding heavens, including the discovery of Pluto, and the works of early astronomers. Terra Firma looks at some of the more unique surface features of the planets, such as giant volcanos on Mars, Venus’ toxic clouds, and many more.
Disc Two: Giants & Moon- Giants deals with the Voyager program, and takes a historic look at the most massive of the planets. Moons covers the space race the U.S. entered with Russia, and the effects therein.
Disc Three: Star & Atmosphere- Star focuses on the importance and functions of the Sun, while Atmosphere looks at the lethal atmospheres of other planets, and ponders if time could allow for human habitation.
Disc Four: Life Beyond The Sun & Destiny- The first episode offers a glimpse at where we could go if forced to leave this planet, while Destiny looks at what might happen over the next few billion years.
Video: How does it look?
This release uses several different types of footage, so of course, the quality varies from shot to shot. Whether the image is computer generated graphics or a home video camera feed, you’re not going to be disappointed here. Each format looks the best it can given the origins, but of course the professional footage is going to be sharper than that of the home video camera variety. This is sharper and more defined than broadcast quality and free from compression errors, so I think you’ll be pleased with the overall visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is presented well also, with no volume issues arising. The speakers, including the narrator seem to be on the same volume level, so no remote fiddling is called for here. The music sounds wonderful and fits the material well. This release is also subtitled for those hearing impaired viewers.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains some weblinks, as well as a schedule of past, present, and future eclipses.